Tips to help you get more comfortable with meeting people, building relationships, and winning work.
From client meetings to industry events, business development is a key component to the growth of your firm and your career. Yet some of us start to get sweaty palms when it comes time to network or meet with a client. If you get nervous before a meeting, you’re not alone.
Many technical professionals tend to like math more than talking to people; the numbers don’t talk back and won’t ask us about our feelings. It doesn’t have to be this way! That’s why we came up with the top dos and don’ts of business development – to help you get more comfortable with meeting people, building relationships, and winning work:
- Do be prepared. There are two parts to this step. The first is to know about the company you work for and its core competencies. This may seem like a no-brainer, but we are often siloed into only knowing (or caring) about our own office or department’s expertise. Instead, make sure you have a good elevator pitch (a very brief description) ready to describe the different disciplines of your company because you never know what problem a client has that your firm may be able to solve.
The second part of being prepared is knowing who you’re meeting with and why. If you don’t know, do some research beforehand to gain a basic understanding of the person and/or business. A part of this preparation should also be understanding the context of the meeting – such as initial introduction, new client, new market, or cold call – so you can adapt and prepare accordingly.
- Do be there. There is an opportunity for everyone – regardless of level or experience – to network with clients and explore project opportunities. But it begins with showing up for the event or meeting a few minutes early. A former boss once told me if you’re on time, you’re late. If you’re new to the business development world, or feel uncomfortable attending meetings and events alone, take another teammate with you.
- Do be yourself. At Croy, we believe in building relationships with clients as the foundation of our business development efforts. To do this best, be yourself. During a client conversation, ask questions, listen to the responses, and express genuine interest. Questions about their background, family, and interests are great conversation starters and will help with finding something in common – thus helping you to show genuine interest. Here are a few of my favorite questions to ask to get you started:
- Where did you grow up? (Versus asking “Where are you from?”)
- Where’s your next vacation?
- Do you live close by?
- Did you watch any sports games this weekend?
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